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Movie Lovers We Love: Cristina Cacioppo Is Not Afraid to Put ‘Pootie Tang’ Back on the Big Screen

Movie Lovers We Love: Cristina Cacioppo Is Not Afraid to Put 'Pootie Tang' Back on the Big Screen

Cristina Cacioppo was hired by the 92Y Tribeca to help head up their film programming when it opened as a downtown venue for the arts organization 92Y a few years ago, and once she was hired, she noticed a hole in New York repertory film programming right away.  “Los Angeles had Cinefamily, and there was the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, but there wasn’t a lot of places to screen cult stuff or less serious films.”

After graduating college, Cacioppo started a decade ago working as an intern for Christine Vachon’s Killer Films and at the Ocularis film screening series at the Galapagos Art Space, which at the time was in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood.  After a few years doing that, Cacioppo moved to Boston where she put together several screenings and series at universities and libraries.

Soon after coming back to New York, Cacioppo got the job at 92Y Tribeca, where she’s hosted screenings of films like “Pootie Tang” and “Karate Kid” with special guests in post-screening Q&A’s.  She sees herself as a part of a new crop of young programmers.  “Even though we all want to go to see classic films and things like that, we want an alternative.  We’re just saying, ‘Here’s the stuff that we love.  It’s time to start taking movies from the 80’s seriously, to treat them as art and not just discard them as ’80’s.'”  She continued, “We’re also really interested in making sure the screenings are a good social experience.   You can’t be as uptight in our spaces.  People want to go to these screenings and have a social experience.”

Cacioppo’s screenings have the tendency to strike a chord with fervently enthusiastic audiences of films that rarely get the big screen treatment.  “We decided to do a sing along series, and I was unsure about doing a screening of ‘Labyrinth.’  I asked around to see if I was crazy, and there were people lining up all over.  We had to move it to the bigger theater, and we do it every year now.”  She added a bit about another surprise success screening:  “I know ‘Twin Peaks’ has a following, and so I screened ‘Fire Walk with Me.’  I had to keep adding screenings until we sold out five screenings of it.  That’s hugely satisfying.”

Since starting programming film screenings at 92Y Tribeca, Cacioppo has been met with competition from other New York venues willing to screen, as others might accuse, “less serious” fare.  The Spectacle Theater and Nitehawk Cinemas in Williamsburg often take on more fun screenings, and for awhile, under Aaron Hillis reRun in DUMBO was persistent in showing off the offbeat.  But all this doesn’t mean Cacioppo is slowing down.  She’s programming films for 92Y Tribeca four nights every week all year, and when she gets the time, she writes essays for the zine I Love Bad Movies.

Coming up soon for Cacioppo and 92Y Tribeca, there’s a Back to School series in September, where they’ll screen a slew of films that haven’t been on the big screen in New York for awhile.  They’ll also use that opportunity to do a reprise screening of a “Grease 2” sing along.  In October, they’ll host the Doomsday Festival, with Doomsday-related films and panels.  Also in September, 92Y Tribeca will host the first ever La Di Da Film Festival for post-mumblecore American indies, programmed by Miriam Bale.

Favorite Films: I’ll avoid the usual fuss about how difficult it is to answer this and just flat out say: “Babe: Pig in the City” and “Taking Off” (I just realized they’re kind of the same movie).

Favorite Director: Agnes Varda and Sylvester Stallone

Best Decade for Flimmaking: 1980s, no question.

Guilty Pleasure Film: I saved the fuss-making for this one because I’ve made peace with all movies I love watching so there is no longer guilt involved! “Hard Target” is awesome and if someone thinks there is shame in liking it, clearly they don’t know how your life changes after seeing Jean Claude Van Damme punch a snake.  

If You Could Screen Any Film with Complete Cast & Crew Present for Q&A, It Would Be: “Pootie Tang”! We did a 10th anniversary screening last year and Lance Crouther (Pootie Tang himself) was there, but I still want the full monte. Not just because all of their careers have taken off – Louis C.K., Wanda Sykes, J.B. Smoove, etc – but because it’s hilarious and one-of-a-kind, and however flawed it might be, it’s time for all those who made it to recognize that! (Or hopefully it will be time by the 20th anniversary.)

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